The defendant, a schizophrenic, was a secure tenant of the claimant and exercised the right to buy his flat. Before completion of the sale, and whilst he was not taking his medication, he sublet the flat without the claimant’s consent and so ceased to be a secure tenant. The claimant subsequently obtained a possession order and the defendant appealed against this on the basis that his schizophrenia meant that he was disabled and obtaining a possession order amounted to unlawful treatment under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

The Court of Appeal found that, on the evidence, the defendant’s mental impairment did amount to a disability within the meaning of the Act. The defendant did not have to show that the disability was the actual cause of the subletting. His disability had a causal link to the subletting which had then contributed to the possession order. In bringing the proceedings, the claimant had unlawfully discriminated against the defendant. The alleged discriminators did not need to be aware of the disability and lack of awareness was no defence to a discrimination claim.

Lewisham London Borough Council v Malcolm & Disability Rights Commission (Intervener)